Wednesday, July 02, 2014

I'm a makeup addict, but I don't buy these brands

And the reasons are really stupid. I mean, of course I'm influenced by packaging. We all are. But aside from that, my reasons for avoiding certain brands are pretty dumb. And so, as a favor to marketers everywhere, I thought I'd list them here.

(BTW, so I don't feel alone in this, feel free to chime in with your pet makeup prejudices in the comment section.)

Nars, because

icky black rubber packaging that shows every fingerprint.


because hello, crayon colors! Also, the lack of shade names. What's with all the numbers? How is that evocative? Or even slightly mnemonic?

Dolce & Gabbana, because

their print ads bug. We get it; you guys are Italian. But am I supposed to want to look like an extra in a Fellini movie? I'd end up cast as the lady in sunglasses. No thanks.

Laura Mercier, because

it looks clinical. And uninspiring. And less than glamorous. What--you couldn't make lids from silver or gold? Are the elements not modern enough?

Aerin, because

they can't fool me; it's Estee Lauder.

Trish McEvoy, because

that whole planner thing has no appeal. Maybe if I were on the road all the time, or felt satisfied using the same shades over and over and over. But I'm neither.

Tom Ford, because

he needs to get over himself.

La Prairie

because $200 for a foundation? No.

Kevyn Aucoin, because

although I'm sad he's dead, I have no desire to buy makeup from his ghost.


is the biggest makeup company in Japan, and yet, I forget it exists.

Le Metier de Beauté

because nine years of French, and I still don't know what this means.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Why scooping up weird shit at sales might not be such a terrible thing.

I talked to blackbird yesterday and heard about her accident, and it made me want to blog again.

Yes, I realize that sounds bad. "Internet, if you want me to blog, you have to almost get hit by a car and break your wrist in multiple places."

But really, when you're trying to catch up with your friend, and she's telling you about the trauma unit and her orthopedic surgeon, and you counter with the changes you've been making in your wardrobe because you realized--at the age of 57, mind you--that you looked better in brown than black, you have no recourse except to turn to the internet. Because even in the throes of my angst, even I realize that the all-consuming question: "Am I a Winter or an Autumn?" is a little lacking in drama.

But enough of the obligatory sorry-I-haven't-blogged-in-so-long and in-case-you-haven't-noticed-this-blog-is-deeply-shallow. Let's get on with it, shall we?

I found out by accident that I've been wearing the wrong colors for years. Do you remember Color Me Beautiful? Well, when that book came out, I thought in pretty much binary terms. The system is based on hair color, eye color, level of contrast between your hair and skin, and undertones. You had blue eyes or brown; brown hair or blonde. Or you were a redhead, which I wasn't. Since I didn't have blue eyes or blond hair, I had to be a winter.

Over the past three or four years I've managed to accumulate items of clothing that aren't my colors (classic Color Me Beautiful winter shades like black, black, navy, red, pale pink, pale blue, and black.) I may have gotten them because they were on sale or were the only dress that fitted or one of those half-assing-it shopping scenarios that make people end up on What Not to Wear.

However, some of these sale purchases netted me more compliments than the stuff I liked and paid full retail for. I'll illustrate my point with a series of selfies taken over the past year and a half.

Here I am trying to tell whether the coral shades in my clearance faux-Liberty Gap shirt are flattering:

If I remember correctly, I was trying to wear warm-toned makeup to complement the shirt.

Then back to black:

Black leather jacket only mildly marked down at Brooks Brothers; faux Alexander McQueen scarf courtesy of China via Susie Sunshine.

For the record, I took this picture in the bathroom at my hair salon, so the lighting is terrible. I look even more sallow than I actually am, but the black is doing my complexion no favors. I think.

Gray dress by Lafayette 148 (old) necklace J. Crew (old)

In this picture, I'm wearing a charcoal gray dress with a J. Crew necklace in tones of bronze and pale lilac. I've got on a full face of spackle (except I guess I wasn't filling my brows every day at this point.) I think this is on my front porch, so it's filtered daylight, which explains why I look about 27 years old.

Suit from a sale Neiman Marcus catalog (old)

OK, this is Easter Sunday on the way to brunch. It was a very sunny day (it may be the last time the sun shone in Chicago this year.) I'm wearing a very pale coral silk suit and a full face of spackle.

This is the most recent picture--I'm wearing a darker coral sheath, full face of spackle,  hair up and glasses off. Indoors at lunch time, no flash.

Coral Ponte knit with raffia center panel by Worth New York

So. I've pretty much decided that I am not a winter. Black is not my color. Neither is hot pink, or bright blue. Even pale pink is a little trying. As a result, I'm wearing colors that I haven't gone near since the 1980s, when black/cobalt/fuschia triumphed over the earth tones that had ruled the 1970s. Colors that until recently I wouldn't have touched with a ten foot pole. Colors that I had formerly categorized as redhead colors. Autumn colors. But not the full on pumpkin shades that real redheads wear. I've been buying things like these, in colors like primrose yellow

GAP fitted boyfriend shirt, on sale for $27.99

 or coral

Worth New York pencil skirt in white with coral branches, from a post at Pam Lutrell's blog, Over 50 Feeling 40

or teal

Salvatore Ferragamo "Varina" flats

I'm still wearing Lilly

but I'm keeping the hot pink away from my face. It's OK in shoes.

Ferragamo Vara pumps in Agata Rosa Arancio on sale at Zappos for $329.99

but not makeup. Instead, I'm wearing soft corals, pinky corals, beiges, and browns.
Chantecaille Coral Reefs palette

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

My vintage Chanel jumbo flap in action

Isn't it gorgeous!

Every year my pal Bunky gives a Valentine's Day tea party at the Ritz for all of "his ladies." We are all requested to wear red. This year I didn't have a red dress or suit to wear, so I made do with a red and white mini-check shirt and a red cashmere cardigan. Red lips and nail polish, of course.

Because that didn't seem dressy enough, I got out the big guns: two red Hermès bangles and a red and white Twilly tied to the strap of my circa 1990s Chanel bag. I've never seen a picture of me carrying it--it's a wow, isn't it?

I lunched with the two other ladies pictured here, and we had a terrific time.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Where I've been lately

1. Trying to work on my "favorite products of 2013" series, except travel, and illness, and dry, dry, dry, desert-y dry skin.

I mean, is it possible to assess my various B.B. creams when my skin is so dry that I'm carrying a sample-sized pot of Estee Lauder Re-Nutriv Seriously Rich Cream For Seriously Rich Old Ladies* everywhere I go, so I can dab a little on the places that might crack when I start laughing at my own jokes?

2. Shopping. And for high-end products. Chantecaille, Guerlain, the aforemention Estee Lauder cream.

3. Watching YouTube Beauty Gurus. And, naturally, emulating them:

* OK, that isn't really its name, but what is up with the long-ass names cosmetics companies give their products? Who can remember them? I can't remember the actual, official name of my day-time moisturizer, and I've used it for years. If I ever got laid up in bed and had to send my husband out to buy it for me, I'd tell him to get "the Garnier lotion in the ugly green pump bottle."

Saturday, February 01, 2014

The twelve greatest hits of 2013: body lotion

For the record, I've linked below to Amazon and/or, for which I receive not one brass centime.

I've recently been experimenting with lots of body lotions--I haven't even finished trying all the new ones I got for Christmas--but I've settled on my winners for 2013. Mind you, these are not lotions that provide a huge degree of sensual delight; they aren't wonderfully scented; the bottles are plain Jane; they don't feel luxurious. These lotions get the job done. There are three winners because these lotions serve slightly different needs, so I really need to have all three handy.

And the three winners:

Johnson's Baby Naturals Nourishing Lotion ($8.47/9 oz) isn't greasy at all, but it has more body than the average baby lotion, which I've always found rather thin and runny. It's paraben-free, with 99 percent natural ingredients. The fragrance is fresh--sort of a combination of cucumbers and lettuce--and it dissipates quickly, so it doesn't argue with my perfume. The bottle comes with a pump top, which makes it just that little bit faster and easier to apply when you get out of the shower. I use about six pumps to cover my entire body, so a bottle only lasts me about three weeks. I wouldn't say that it sinks in immediately, but it doesn't take long, and it doesn't feel greasy. I used it every day, sometimes twice on the days when I worked out in the afternoon, and it has kept my skin soft and comfortable even through Chicago's patented Polar Vortices™.

Vaseline Spray & Go moisturizer ($7.79/6.5 oz) is a thin, not particularly moisturizing lotion whose selling point is that it's fast to apply and fast to sink in. Frankly, this sounds to me like a problem  cosmetics manufacturers invented to sell us a cool new toy. Unless I'm using the original Nivea cream or Eucerin or bear grease, I haven't noticed that it takes my body lotion a long time to be absorbed--obviously, your mileage may vary.

I bought this lotion for one reason: the nozzle works from every angle, which means that it's possible to spray it upside down over my own shoulders and apply lotion to my back. I'm sure if I were using this stuff all over my body, it wouldn't be cost effective, but for that square foot of back, the bottle seems to be lasting a good while.

Amlactin Ultra ($14.99/4.9 oz) is the bomb if you've let things go and gotten chapped. Of course, we grown-up ladies are too smart to let that happen, but I can't say the same for the husbands and teenagers in my life, whose hands and legs get so red and chapped that it's painful to look at. I don't advocate using Amlactin all over because even this new and improved version of the classic cream smells ... OK, I can't think of a way to say this tactfully. But the humectant in this cream is derived from urea, which is urine, and so to me, this cream smells vaguely of pee.

And I can't say that the odor dissipates. When I've used it, I tend to find myself reaching for my more bang! pow! fragrances; big hitters like Hermès 24 Faubourg, Surrender by Killian, or Estee Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia.

But if your skin is chapped, chafed, or red, this stuff will clear things up right away, without being intolerably greasy. And if you're using it on your hands or feet, you can always goop it on and then wear cotton gloves and socks to bed. Because that will really jump start your love life.

So when you use it, make sure the room is properly ventilated. And check to see whether any nearby cats start to try to bury you.

(Can you believe it? I hardly ever get feelers from cosmetics companies looking to partner with my blog.)

Friday, January 17, 2014

the best blush of 2013: Benefit's Dandelion

I hope they don't mind that I stole their picture.

Benefit's Dandelion is one of those products I've heard about for years. It pretty much won't stop winning awards.

Unfortunately, the whole award thing raises my hackles, as it should anyone's who has ever been suckered into buying a tube of Maybelline's god-awful G----- L--- mascara,* which is easily the worst, gloppiest, smeariest mess on the planet.

And don't think I didn't notice that Dandelion comes in pink and green packaging, "just like The Mascara That Can't Be Named," she thought, suspiciously.

But when I heard that my pal Wendy has gone through three boxes of Dandelion, I had to buy it and give it a try. Even though it costs an astonishing $28.

And what do you know--I love it. In fact, I've used it pretty much every day since I brought it home.

But first, the negatives: It comes in a little green cardboard box, which is a little bulky. There is a not very-good-quality mirror inside the lid, (although I pretty much ignore it, because it tends to be covered with, duh, a thin layer of Dandelion). Also, the brush that comes with it is only OK.

That's all the criticism I can muster. For pale-faced people, this gives a perfect soft pink flush. There's a tiny bit of sparkle, but it's barely noticeable--just enough to give it a tiny lift and prevent it from looking unnaturally matte.

It also makes a nice base for a second shade of blush. This is where you fluff on your Dandelion, than use a brighter or more intense shade to add a pop of color** on the apples of your cheeks. You're probably thinking "Why bother?" but keep this idea in mind, should you be feeling more dramatic or wanting to skew a little more coral or something.

* Not only will I not link to this product, I consider it The Mascara that Can't Be Named.

** From here on, all beauty/style blogger clichés will appear in italics, to let the reader know that I realize I'm acting like an ass.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The twelve greatest hits of 2013: Buxom lippies

I realize that everyone is going matte these days, and/or trying to get you to pull off super bright red lips. Which may not be the greatest look for us. I mean, has anyone else noticed how overwhelming Emma Stone's makeup is in the recent Revlon ads?

Anyway, cray colors (as in crayon colors that will make you look crazy) are all very well and good for chickabiddies like Emma. But we are adult women. We exist in the space/time continuum--a real place, where redheads do not wear fuchsia lipstick, for God's sake.

Sad to say that colors that look great on Taylor Swift or Scarlet Johansen or even Emma tend to make us look like a remake of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.

I'll rock a red lip very occasionally. Very special occasionally, like when Mr. Buxom and I are going to a holiday party. And on those occasions, I make him promise not to look at me until we get to the party, where the lights will be appropriately dim.

The rest of the time, I wear my-lips-but-better shades. And this past year, I started using some products from the Buxom line--and not just because of the awesome name. I don't know whether these products make my lips look buxom, but they definitely look younger and fuller, and for that they win best lip products of 2013.

First, I outline and fill with Full-On Lipstick ($19)
in Brooklyn, a shade they describe as "harvest fig."

GIANT SWATCH OF BROOKLYN!!!! (Where are all the hipsters?)

Full-On Lipstick is matte without being drying or irritating. This is crucial, because keeping my lips smooth and soft is a challenge. Matte lipsticks and long-wear lipsticks are great, but my lips pay a price when I wear them. Consequently, I'm always looking for lip color that lasts, but isn't irritating.  

The weird thing is the Buxom line is designed to act as lip plumpers. Lip plumping products contain ingredients like cinnamon, capiscum, or menthol that cause a mild and temporary swelling of the lips. I stayed far away from them for years because I'd heard that they could be uncomfortable, even painful, and I didn't want to use products that would dry out or irritate my lips. But the Buxom products don't irritate my lips--they have the minty tingle, but wearing them actually leaves my lips softer and smoother.

I use Brooklyn under other, glossier lipsticks to keep the color from migrating. (I love Revlon Lip Butters, but they just won't stay put.) I use Brooklyn under some of my more flamboyant glosses to tone them down. And I especially love Brooklyn under Full-On Lipcream ($19)

in White Russian

Which is a lovely, milky pink color with no frost or glitter. It has good pigment, but is a little pale for me to wear by itself. It's useful for lightening darker shades and making your lips look fuller.

Like the Full-On Lipstick, Full-On Lip Cream is supposed to plump your lips. It has a minty tingle that starts a few seconds after you apply them. I notice the tingle, but I haven't noticed much, if anything in the way of plumping. On the other hand, I won't object if my lips get a tiny bit fuller--even if I can't really see a measurable difference.

And this gloss does make my lips appear fuller. It doesn't do this by sleight of hand with glitter or shimmer. It fills in the lines in my lips like no other shade I've ever used.

Me, myself, and I

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